Chapter 19: Sunrise

Lydis was still a bit on guard against Valeri. Seeing as she was still a bit reluctant Valeri took off her long overcoat and flipped the back to Lydis.

"See this crest here?" Lydis's eyes drifted to the upside down half moon with two kopis swords crossed above it. "This is the official crest of our nation, Lativa. Should I lie I will never wear this crest again. A soldier is only as good as their word!" Valeri held her right hand over her heart and brought her left hand next to her right one and clasped them together. This was the formal oath sealing gesture custom in Lativa. Seeing this Lydis softened her defenses a bit. If they were allied with her father then surely they wouldn't do her any harm.

"Mhm." Seeing as Lydis was looking a bit more cooperative Valeri smiled again.

"Now, what were you doing here?" Lydis wasn't sure why but she felt compelled to tell Valeri everything although some things had to be hidden due the absurdness of it.

"But, before I formally start I need you to know my real name." Valeri perked her eyebrows up when she heard this.

"Hmm? Was your name not Krim?" Lydis tightened her lips and after a few seconds she released the tension in her jaw.

"My true identity is… Lydis Huwen. Daughter of the Archduke Helmlock Huwen and his spouse Marie Huwen." Valeri furrowed her eyebrows and looked to be in deep thought.

"And? How can I be sure this is true?"

"That is for you to decide. Whether you believe me or not is all up to you." Valeri massaged her head with her palms.

*sigh* "Ok, ok. I'm ready. Go on." Valeri lifted her head and stared at Lydis, her eyes filled with a new sense of understanding. Lydis nodded and began telling Valeri all about her experiences. She started from when she got her arm bitten off by the wolf all to the point of when she fell asleep and hearing her mother's words for the last time. After Lydis finished Valeri didn't say anything. Valeri looked at Lydis's unwavering eyes and closed hers.

"Ahh. This is troublesome…" Lydis didn't say anything either, she just waited for Valeri to finish. ""Lydis, do you know how long it's been since that invasion?" Lydis shook her head.

"Four years?" Lydis judged from her body that four years should've passed. Valeri sighed deeply.

"It's been more than forty years since Umphia invaded. The royal family of Jorgororo, the continent Unphia is a part of, had declared that they would stop trade with all continents. For some unknown reason. With trade levels low and not much food going around Umphia got desperate I guess and decided to invade this port town. Casualties were innumerable."

"What happened to those bastards!?" Lydis stood up, hate and anger filling her eyes. "If you tell me that they got spared with a few penalties I swear on my life I will not stop until I seek my revenge." Valeri motioned for Lydis to sit down.


"No, if that did happen then I wouldn't be here scouting but fighting for my kinsmen on a battlefield. No, what happened was that their Emperor, Craven Uilitin, was surprisingly merciless. When word reached him from the countries surrounding Umphia he sent out his personal army and wiped out all inhabitants of Umphia. He even tracked down the Duke's little girl who he had sent off to another country for protection and killed her as well as anyone helping her. When the people were all dead he burned the buildings and crushed them back into the soil. Umphia was no longer a country. It was taken off the history books as a country and labeled a land of heretics." A small chime beeped on Valeri's wrist. She glanced over and covered the small device with her hand.

"What was that?"

"Oh, it's nothing. Just a reminder for some meaningless task." Lydis wasn't fully convinced but she decided not to push further since she wanted Valeri to continue on about Umphia.

"Where was I… Right. After the Emperor declared Umphia heretics, they went out of touch."

"Does no one know what happened inside Jorgororo after that and why they went silent?" Valeri shook her head.

"If I knew then I probably wouldn't be standing here right now."

"Hmm…"

"A few years passed and Jorgororo suddenly opened it's borders again. When the rumors started circling around at first people didn't believe them but soon enough products native to Jorgororo started flooding the market."

"What's so wrong with that?"

"Well all those products had been modified and at a set time they would kill whoever ate the fruits or food from Jorgororo."

"…"

"It was… like Gestva but on a whole other level. Left and right people just dropped all at once. No warning whatsoever. One moment they could be laughing and perfectly healthy and the next they're on the floor foam coming out of their mouth." Lydis tried to imagine the scene but all that came up was flashes of a bloodied classroom. Eventually she stopped trying and refocused her attention to Valeri.

"Millions died all at once. All over the continents there were countless untold deaths. Every country saw this as an act of biological warfare and prepared a unified force to invade Jorgororo. But, when they actually arrived on Jorgororo the place was already destroyed and devastated."

"How do you know so much? I'm sure the higher ups wouldn't just post this kind of information publicly or else it might cause a mass hysteria." Valeri nodded at Lydis's deduction.

"I was part of the attack force. I was leading my nine-man squad at the time and let me tell you. It looked like a scene straight out of hell. No one knows why that happened but after months of investigating we came to one conclusion. Life was no longer possible on Jorgororo, for humans anyways. The beasts there had mutated and multiplied beyond any of our expectations. We lost many men and women investigating Jorgororo. I barely came back with my life…" Valeri paused and touched her eyepatch. She clenched her fist but went back to talking. "My initial mine squad came back with only four members, and that was considered lucky. Some got completely wiped out so I guess leaving that place with my life was something." Valeri chuckled a little. Suddenly she didn't look as imposing and powerful as she did before. Maybe it was the light but the lines of Valeri's cheeks looked deeper, darker and her eye hazed with a lonely look. A few moments passed and Valeri sighed deeply.

"Back to where we were!" She was trying to change the sorrowful mood but a bit lingered still. "So we came back here and found out that a continent next to us, Seruin, declared war with the other continents. It was a surprise to everyone as well as all the other continents which had received major military reductions thanks to Jorgororo's mass killing. Seruin was the least effected since it was the furthest away from Jorgororo but still, to declare war right after the expedition is nonsense. And, that is where we are now." Lydis didn't say anything. She was still absorbing the fact on how Jorgororo had been decimated. A whole continent wiped out without anyone knowing, who could've done such a thing?

"This seems like a mass suicide."

"Huh?"

"Well, if the products shipped out from Jorgororo killed all the people who ate them then wouldn't that count for the people inside Jorgororo too?"

"What makes you say that?"

"I don't know. It's more like a feeling." Once again the chime from the device on Valeri's wrist beeped, this time it sounded more urgent.

"You sure that's nothing?"

"Yeah. I just need to be clear. Are you really Lydis Huwen?" Valeri's eye had lost it's sorrowful haze and was now replaced with a trace of relief. Like a small glint of hope.

"Yes. I have no reason to lie about my identity. Although I can't explain why I look like this." Lydis raised her arms to emphasize the size of her body.

"Tell me s-something that only Lydis would know." Valeri had tried to hide it but Lydis heard the little stutter. Lydis gave Valeri an questioning glance but seeing as Valeri was ignoring it she sighed and tried to search her memories for something.

"Umm… During my first party gathering I was… Dressed in, a pink dress. My mother and maid had debated heavily over whether to dress me in white or blue, but I had chosen the pink one." As Lydis was recalling the memory more details flooded in. "In the party I was nervous. So nervous that I spilled my juice on daddy." Lydis was reliving the moment. She could feel everything from the fabric of the dress to the rough tickle of her father's slight stub of a beard. "Ha ha. He left early and begged mama to come back too since he was lonely but mama didn't want to ruin my first party. Although mama said she didn't want to leave early she still did. Pistilla was always there as well. Heh, she was stubborn. Although she told me to use her real name I always called her Piti when we were alone." Suddenly warm drops splattered onto her legs. Not knowing what they were Lydis opened her eyes and found herself crying.

"H-huh?" The tears wouldn't stop. Lydis tried to cover her eyes with her hands but the tears just slipped through them. "Huh? Why am I crying?" She couldn't explain it in words but the tight pain in her chest and the throbbing in her heart proved to her how much she had missed her family. No matter how hard she tried to cover it in her mind, once she let a little out the rest would surely follow.